EE fined £1 million for failing to deal with your complaints properly

The fine highlights a problem with the way the mobile industry deals with complaints.

Richard Trenholm
Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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The £1 million fine levied at EE highlights the complexities of the mobile industry's complaints procedure. Shutterstock

EE has been given a slap on the wrist to the tune of £1 million for mishandling your complaints.

EE is the UK's largest mobile network and is currently in the process of being bought by BT. The fine shines a spotlight on the network's customer service, and highlights the complexities of the mobile industry's procedures for dealing with your complaints.

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom levied the fine after an investigation into the way telecoms companies handle complaints from customers. The regulator found that EE failed to inform disgruntled customers that they could take their grievances to an independent body if they weren't satisfied with the way the network dealt with them.

If you've complained to the people at your network about their service, you have two months after first raising the issue to go to an independent "alternative dispute resolution" body. Networks are supposed to explain this to customers in writing, but EE failed to do so during a three-year period between 2011 and 2014.

"This fine relates to our historic performance regarding complaints handling," insists an EE spokesperson. "While this in no way excuses it, it is important to note that we identified issues in our complaints handling and began our programme to tackle these problems head on in 2013, before Ofcom started their investigation. We have made considerable improvements since then.

"Ofcom's current figures highlight that complaints into Ofcom about EE have fallen by 50 percent in the past year alone and, while even one complaint is one too many, we're working tirelessly not only to improve the handling of complaints but also to identify root causes, and fix problems customers have with us, to ultimately achieve our goal of offering the best service in the market," the EE spokesperson said.

Today's news highlights some of the problems with the telecoms industry and the way it handles complaints, according to industry observer Richard Neudegg of uSwitch.com. "Access to an ombudsman is of huge importance, but the telecoms market's complaints procedure is more confusing than other sectors. There isn't one single ombudsman, there are two that companies may direct customers to. So it's extremely important information on how to access these is completely clear."

The two independent bodies available to you if you're unhappy with your network are the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) and Ombudsman Services: Communications. EE is a member of CISAS.

The fine will be passed to the UK treasury.